Calf Pain Running

Calf Pain Running

Written by Roger Morelli, Myotherapist

Calf Pain

Brisbane is a great town for running!  So we see LOTS of calf pain from running at Knead Massage.

If you experience calf pain after running a few kilometres, and the pain doesn’t reduce as you go – you may have an overuse injury known as Biomechanical Overload Syndrome (BOS).

Unlike a calf tear, which happens suddenly, with pain that is obvious in all activities (until the tear heals) – pain that is only experienced while running, is probably an overuse injury.

Fortunately, there’s a strategy a runner can employ with their Myotherapist to live pain free – cause we know, RUNNERS GOTTA RUN.

Why do we get Calf Pain Running?

The usual risk factors:

  • Inadequate rest or recovery (common in those who are attempting their first marathon without a coach and mistakenly believe they have to run 30km+ in one session multiple times a week).
  • Weakness in the leg complex
  • Returning to running after a training break – and being aged 40-60
  • Increase in training load – running faster, or more often – sudden introduction of hills.
  • Stress and lack of sleep
  • Changing to minimalist shoes without an appropriate tapering up (suddenly running your usual distance in minimalist footwear you haven’t gradually adapted to).
  • Changing from their natural heel strike pattern to a toe pattern without having an injury that is forcing this change

If you are affected by this condition – you’ve probably noticed that you can’t just stretch and massage it away.  It’s important to book a consultation with a Myotherapist or other healthcare professional for an assessment.

How does calf pain in runners happen?

Clients that present with these symptoms are often fit people, who run and workout with weights.  What we commonly hear from runners with calf pain is “I don’t need to train my legs at the gym – because I run.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t true.  The best solution to Biomechanical Overload Syndrome of the calf from running, is to increase the strength of the lower leg (calves and toe flexors).

What should I do?

Perform the strengthening exercises in the infographic below (from educator David Pope at clinical edge sharing the insights of The Running Physio – Tom Goom).

  • Limit the distance you run – stop running before the symptoms become obvious
  • experiment with a walk run approach – run for 10 minutes then walk for 2-3 minutes.  Work out the best ratio for you.
  • Book in to Knead Massage Brisbane for a myotherapy assessment of your calf pain.  A Myotherapist can design a strength and conditioning program appropriate to your situation and use many techniques to reduce the irritation and pain.
  • Incorrect footwear is commonly an ingredient of pain – a consultation with a podiatrist for orthotics or optimal footwear may be appropriate.
Calf Pain Running

Treatment Guide for Calf Pain in Runners

Based on Physio Edge podcast 66 with Tom Goom

What shouldn’t I do?

  • You shouldn’t run through it – symptoms will just get worse.
  • You shouldn’t abandon running entirely – stop running before calf pain happens or combine walking and running before it does.
  • Don’t run hills if you have these symptoms
  • Don’t ignore it – getting massage constantly won’t make this better.  Massage may help after you have severe pain, but it won’t stop it from coming back.
  • Consider using the treadmill over the bitumen.  A treadmill evokes approximately 40% less force on average per step.  The calf won’t have to work as hard absorbing shock.

Calf pain when running can be a complex problem – consult with a Myotherapist for simple solutions.



Roger Morelli
Roger Morelli is a Myotherapist at Knead Massage in Brisbane CBD. He loves helping clients improve their quality of life with effective Myotherapy and corrective exercise treatments. He has a special interest in lower limb issues after experiencing a life changing car accident 20 years ago.
Roger Morelli
Roger Morelli

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